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BYU's Bronson Kaufusi has 'a different maturity level' than other NFL Draft prospects

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At 24 years old, the defensive end is older than most rookies, but his versatility makes him an intriguing prospect.

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Bronson Kaufusi, the 6'6 and 285-pound former BYU defensive end expected to go in the second or third round of the upcoming NFL Draft, grew up surrounded by athletes. His dad, Steve Kaufusi, played defensive line for the Philadelphia Eagles and has been an assistant coach at BYU since 2002. One of Bronson's younger brothers is currently playing basketball at BYU. Another brother has committed to the basketball team while two cousins plan on becoming Cougars football players.

Kaufusi also has an older sister who played basketball for BYU and a younger sister who plays soccer for the school. As did his wife, Hillary. So it should come as no surprise that when Bronson was reached over the phone recently he was prepping for some game called Spikeball.

"It's like volleyball, but with a trampoline," he told SB Nation. "It was on Shark Tank."

Kaufusi says he's always on the prowl for competition and looking to take on various members of his family or even his wife. He and Hillary particularly enjoy going head-to-head in ping pong and Nintendo 64.

"We have an Xbox, but you can't beat some of those old games," he says. "Smash Brothers, Mario Kart -- those are the best."

Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses, though the victories don't come without consequences.

"My wife's super competitive, too," Kaufisi said. "If I win sometimes she won't play anything with me for a few weeks. That's the worst."

These days, Kaufusi is spending most of his time preparing for the draft.

"Working out a lot, getting my lifts in, my running, my conditioning work in, studying film, doing my nutrition," he said. "Then when I have time off I'll do things with my family, different activities. I've enjoyed everything so far, being able to get bigger, faster, stronger -- that's my favorite part. That and being able to show off my skill set."

Part of what makes Kaufusi such an appealing prospect is his versatility

Kaufusi played basketball in high school and even suited up for the Cougars' hoops team when he was a freshman before he decided to concentrate exclusively on football. He was initially recruited as a tight end before being moved to the defensive line. The Cougars shifted him to linebacker during his junior season before putting him back in the trenches last year. He rewarded the decision with an 11-sack campaign, which he partially attributes to spending a year attacking opponents from a different viewpoint.

"I absolutely loved playing linebacker," he said. "Being able to play that new position at a different level of the field helped improve my understanding of defense. D-linemen, we really just know the front. Everything is about the blitz. But being a linebacker I had to learn about draws, coverages, all that, and that adds to your knowledge of the game."

Kaufusi describes himself as a fast learner and believes he can thrive in the NFL no matter where his future employer decided to slot him.

"I feel like I'm really versatile," he said. "I feel like teams can put me in the 4 technique, put me in the 5 tech, a 3, a 1, for me it's whatever they want me to be I'll be ready to go."

Kaufusi loves stats

Not the basic kind, but advanced numbers. Kaufusi majored in statistics and says he loves looking at football analytics.

"I love being able to use numbers," he said. "When I watch film, they help me understand things and learn about what teams have done in past games."

But what Kaufusi enjoys most is being active. Anything involving competition draws him in. He has a special affinity for activities outdoors.

"Fishing is my favorite," Kaufusi said. "But I love hiking, golf or anything that lets me be active outdoors."

"I have a different maturity level than other players"

At 24, he's older than most prospects. He's already married and spent two years after high school in Auckland, New Zealand, as part of his Mormon mission. This, he believes, has prepared him for all the difficult off-the-field obstacles that come with being a professional football player. He also says every NFL team he's spoken to has asked him about the mission.

"You learn a lot of lessons and do a lot of growing up when you're out on the mission," he said.

Still, Kaufusi isn't shy about acknowledging that being away from home for two years can get difficult.

"The days can get long and of course you miss things," he says. "For me, I missed being to able to work out for a long time. I missed football. I missed being with teammates. But you realize you're doing something special that can change lives forever."